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Crime and Punishment

If the Entire Court Says Guilty, He's Innocent. Really?

Class Summary:

This women's class was presented Tuesday Parshas Shoftim, 3 Elul, 5778, August 14, 2018, at Ohr Chauim Shul, Monsey, NY.

There is a strange law in Judaism. If a court judging a case of capital punishment votes unanimously to convict the defendant, the defendant is acquitted! Only if there is at least one judge who attempts to argue on the defendants behalf, will the conviction stand, following the majority.

This seems bizarre: Where the evidence of guilt appears indisputable, Jewish law frees the suspect! Yet a case with weaker evidence, and thus containing a split among the justices, results in conviction! Is this not an irrational outcome of the law?!

The Torah, as usual, does not fit into our man-made, prefabricated political platforms, but rather has its own unique and refreshing approach. This class presents two fascinating insights. One presented by a 16th century Turkish scholar; the other by a 19th century Polish scholar. Fascinatingly, Dostoyevsky’s world famous novel Crime and Punishment sheds light on the Jewish version of Crime and Punishment.

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Please leave your comment below!

  • MR

    Meir Rosenberger -9 months ago

    so how come 24,00 students died if "truth" was so important?

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  • SR

    Shmuel Rosenfeld -2 years ago

    Sotah is given death penalty without 23 dayanim

    Why is the Sotah judged differently then any other capitol offense?

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    • C

      Chaim.S -2 years ago

      The Sota is not given any death sentence, she is given to drink the MAYIM HAMORIRIM, if she is innocent ,nothing happens to her, if guilty she dies by divine providence.

      There is no human judgement at all.

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  • Anonymous -3 years ago

    could you please put up the mareih mikomos of the class. 

    thank you. 

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  • M

    Moshe -3 years ago

    If every one of 71 judges agree he's guilty of murder

    he must be acquired.

    Maybe there's no concept of a plea of the defendant in the Sanhedrin. In western and American law every defendant gets to plead gulity or not guilty.

    What if, even if there is no concept of plea in the Sanhedrin,  the defendant admits to his guilt? Is he still acquited? 

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    • M

      Moshe -3 years ago

      *acquited

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  • O

    Odom -5 years ago


    יש שלום ויש שלום רב. ושלום רב הוא מדרגה יותר נעלה כמובן וזה בא דוקא ע״י חילוקי דעות. וע״כ שלום רב גי׳ מחלק״ת. 

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  • M

    Menachem -5 years ago

    I've got a question, you spoke how since no one on the Sanhedrin is able to find him innocent, shows that this court is below caliber etc.

    But say Hittler yemach shemo were judged by the Sanhedrin, are you saying that one of the members should find a reason why he is innocent?

    You know if you tell me a reason why he is not 100 percent at fault, I got it, like he was crazy or whatever, but that is not a reason to make him innocent.

    The judges sitting in the court in every case that is presented to them faced a criminal. There are undoubtedly reasons to come up with why the individual isn’t 100% guilty. For example he is a crazy person. But nonetheless that would never give room for someone on the judges panel to say that this man is fully innocent.

    So when you ask, did nobody on the judges panel see anything good? The answer is yes it could be they saw something good, but not a good enough reason to say that he is innocent.

    In other words it could very well be that the judges thought through the case from all angles and even gave him the benefit of the doubt. But not to the extent that any one of them should say that he is totally innocent. As the example I gave you of Hitler.

     

     

     

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    • Anonymous -5 years ago

      Two points.
       
      We are talking here of Jews coming to Beis Din. Every Jew is a Chelek Elokah Mimaal. See Rambam end of chapter two of the laws of divorce what he says about every Jew, even the one who is violating the halacha, and even the lowest type: "Since he is a Jew, he wants to do all the mitzvos, and stay away from all sins. It is just his Yatzer which overpowered him..."
      It goes so far that when he is beaten and says "I want," we accept it!
       
      Second. Innocent does not mean that the sin was not a sin. It just means that we can't try him with the full severity of the law and take his life, because he was not acting with full consciousness. 
       
      Comes the Torah and says, yes! There is always room to find this argument that would not make him pure but would eliminate the harsh sentence.
       

       

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  • M

    Menachem -5 years ago

    I've got a question, you spoke how since no one on the Sanhedrin is able to find him innocent, shows that this court is below caliber etc. 
     
    But say Hittler yemach shemo were judged by the Sanhedrin, are you saying that one of the members should find a reason why he is innocent?
     
    You know if you tell me a reason why he is not 100 percent at fault, I got it, like he was crazy or whatever, but  that is not a reason to make him innocent. 
     
    The judges sitting in the court in every case that is presented to them faced a criminal. 
     
    There are undoubtedly reasons to come up with why the individual isn’t 100% guilty. For example he is a crazy person. But nonetheless that would never give room for someone on the judges panel to say that this man is fully innocent. 
    So when you ask, did nobody on the judges panel see anything good? The answer is yes it could be they saw something good, but not a good enough reason to say that he is innocent. 
     
    In other words it could very well be that the judges thought through the case from all angles and even gave him the benefit of the doubt. But not to the extent that any one of them should say that he is totally innocent. As the example I gave you of Hitler.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

    • Anonymous -5 years ago

      Two points.
       
      We are talking here of Jews coming to Beis Din. Every Jew is a Chelek Elokah Mimaal. See Rambam end of chapter two of the laws of divorce what he says about every Jew, even the one who is violating the halacha, and even the lowest type: "Since he is a Jew, he wants to do all the mitzvos, and stay away from all sins. It is just his Yatzer which overpowered him..."
      It goes so far that when he is beaten and says "I want," we accept it!
       
      Second. Innocent does not mean that the sin was not a sin. It just means that we can't try him with the full severity of the law and take his life, because he was not acting with full consciousness. 
       
      Comes the Torah and says, yes! There is always room to find this argument that would not make him pure but would eliminate the harsh sentence.
       

       

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  • SR

    Shmuel Rosenfeld -5 years ago

    קרוב פסול לעדות

    שלום הרב YY

    ידוע הגמרא שאפילו מאה עדים באים לעדות ..אם אחד קרוב הוא פוסל כולם..שואל הגמרא איך אפשר להרוג אדם בדיני נפשות..הלא הנהרג קרוב לעצמו ותמיד הוא רואה את המעשה ולכן הוא פוסל העדים כי הוא קרוב לעצמו..הגמרא מתרץ שמדובר שנהרג מאחורי הגב ולכן לא ראה המעשה..אבל אם לא יש פסול לכדי..אבל הגמרא נותן תשובה יותר טוב...שהוא לא יכול להעיד כי הוא נחשב "בעל דבר"ולא"מקים דבר" ועדות חייבים ..על פי שנים עדים יקום דבר.

    שואל ר'עקיבא איגרת..מה יהיה הדין במסת לעבודה זרה ..הלא המוסת הוא ממש קרוב כמו שכתוב בפסוק.ווידוע שהמוסד יכול להעיד על המסית ולא נחשב בעל דבר אלא מקים דבר..ואם כן ..איך יתכן מצב של הורגים מסית לבושה זרה...נשאר רבי עקיבא איגרת הצריך עיון...אולי יש לך תשובה..השיעורים שלך נפלאים..נהנה כל פעם...

    בברכת ציון וירושלים

    שמואל רוזנפלד

    )גיס של אפרים מיעסקי)

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  • S

    SaraS -5 years ago

    Searching for innocence changes the whole conversation

    By forcing there to be at least one perspective that finds innocence, it changes the whole dynamic of the court case. Each judge knows that he may be the only one who finds a drop of positivity in the defendant, so suddenly you have all the judges trying to find innocence just in case they are the only one who can come up with something. Obviously, not all judges will find innocence, but now there will be true openness to hearing all sides, real searching to be Dan l'kaf zechus. Only then is the debate and vote real, whatever the outcome will be.

    It is frighteningly easy for a court to become corrupted. Read up on the "court cases" against defendants during Communism  The verdicts were always unanimous, officially because the crime was so obvious, there was no room for disagreement.... 

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  • Anonymous -5 years ago

    Juries

    See the movie 12 Angry Men about how 1 person can turn an entire jury around. The movie starts with a capital case where the vote is 11 to 1,for guilt. One by one the protagonist (played by Henry Fonda) turns them around until all 12 vote innocent.

     

    However, the American system has nothing to do with truth. It is an adversarial system that has to do with winning.

     

    As to כל מחלוקת לשם שמים, since the 'losing' opinion is also required in order to arrive at the truth, both sides must be remembered forever.

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Women's Shoftim Class

Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • August 14, 2018
  • |
  • 3 Elul 5778
  • |
  • 4947 views

מוקדש על ידי ר' שמואל בענברון שי', לזכות אשתו אסתר בת מרים, שתהי׳ בריאת אולם ושמחה בחלקה, שתכתב ותחתם לשנה טובה ומתוקה בכל הפרטים, ואך טוב וחסד ימצאוה תמיד כל הימים בטוב הנראה והנגלה.

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